Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Figuring Solutions

Thomas Lucey


Sometimes students express their resistance to learning academic concepts. This lesson avails students opportunities to discuss their attitudes and feelings so they discover possible ways to constructively respond to them.


The student uses responsive listening skills, including paraphrasing, summarizing, and asking questions for elaboration and clarification.

The student knows strategies for managing stress.


-Large pad of paper and easel
-Assessment checklist (see Assessment)


Note: This lesson also applies to these Tennessee Standards:
Grades 6-8
Standard 1: The student will understand the importance of self-concept, interpersonal relationships, and the relationships of sound social, emotional, and mental health practices to wellness.
Standard 2: The student will understand the need and process of personal standard setting and its effect on future outcomes.

1. This lesson works well with any matter students have difficulties resolving. The best preparation is providing a calm, trusting environment where students feel open to communicate.
2. Placing the easel and pad in a cental location allows all students to observe their ideas develop and provides a convenient way for the class to review their discussion.
3. Finally, remember that you are not providing information in this exercise, only facilitating the students to be open and restating their points of view.


1. Ask your students if they have ever wondered why they have difficulty getting into math or any other subject. Today, they will talk about their feelings on the subjects they study. In doing so, they may understand they experience difficult times and how they may address this in the future.

2. Make initial remarks to define the studentsí freedom to express their feelings, creating a relaxed, yet structured atmosphere.

3. Assist students to define the issue to be focused on and write it at the top of the chart paper. Example: I don't like school because....

4. Make a statement of the specific problem. Example: Math is too hard and it's boring.

5. Establish procedures for this discussion, defining procedures for how to speak and listen. Also, discuss with students the meaning of respect. Have students provide examples of respectful actions to demonstrate their understanding of the subject. Remind them of the need to be respectful of other students during the discussion.

6. Encourage students to express positive and negative feelings and to state and explore the problem.

7. Encourage students to express reasons for not enjoying the subject and perceive new meaning in personal experiences. Write the students' statements down on the easel pad.

8. Draw studentsí attention to cause(s) of the difficulty, and that the difficulty is the effect of the causes. Write this information down on the pad as well. For example: Students need to understand that poor preparation causes poor test performance which causes bad grades.

9. Prompt students' understanding of the meaning of their attitudes and that these attitudes must be changed to resolve the difficulty. For example. If students took the time to learn about a subject, they may become interested in it and be excited about it.

10. Ask students which causes of the difficulty they can change and begin planning and making decisions to reduce stress related to the problem. For example: they may not be able to change their homework assignments, yet they can change the environment they do them in.

11. Clarify the alternatives between the actions. For example, what are the different consequences between studying and not studying?

12. Prompt students to discuss the actions they may take to resolve the problem. For example: how will the method of studying help their attitude?

13. Students are to communicate the results of the class discussion and their feelings about it to their parents in a written manner of their choosing (poems, letter, story, article, etc.). Share the assessment checklist (see Assessment) with students prior to their work time. The communication and/or any parent response must be returned. Formatively assess students based on the checklist (see Assessment).

14. Note: Students who did not participate or are reluctant to share their feelings in the open discussion should have additional time to do so, perhaps individually with the teacher or through the written communication to parents.


Student performance may be assessed using the following checklist.
- Student adequately expresses their views on the subject.
- Student reasonably discovers reasons for their actions.
- Student reasonably developed positive manners of addressing attitude difficulties.
- Student indicated academic areas that created stress for him or her and indicated why.
- Student included three ways to reduce stress in difficult academic areas.


-This discussion and solutions might apply in other student areas as well, such as a difficult classmate or a common home difficulty students may have.
-Have the students research Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Great Depression. FDR helped the nation to think positively during the Great Depression. As a leader stricken with polio, he represents a role model for thinking through adverse circumstances.
-Have the students read Kimmel, E., Hyman, T., & Mayer. [Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins]. Holiday House, 1989. And instruct them to write an episode where they overcome a goblin. Note that while this book is a 3rd grade reading level book, the story and illustrations appeal to students of different levels because of its different dimensions.

Web Links

An article concerning creative problem-solving.
Working Smart, an article for creative problem solving

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